As mentioned earlier this week, Boris, a good friend of mine has lent me his father-in-law’s old Pentax Spotmatic 35mm camera. Rumour has it, it was purchased sometime in the late 60s, so its a fairly old piece of kit, older than me, at least (though not older than Boris. Sorry Boris!). As sometimes happens when new technologies come along to replace the old, this camera has spent much of its time unused, tucked away in a cupboard somewhere. Boris (not his real name, just the name I bestowed upon him many moons ago for reasons that I won’t go into here) wasn’t sure if it was still in good working order, it required a new battery to power the light meter as the old mercury one had long since run out and looking through the view finder there were a few large specs of something or other…
Otherwise, though, it looked in good nick, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and fork out a few quid getting it up and running again. £5.50 on a new zinc battery (apparently mercury batteries were so bad for the environment that they stopped making them in the early 90s. You could still buy 4 star petrol in the early 90s, so mercury batteries must have been badass!) from the Small Battery Company and £20ish on five rolls of Ilford HP5 Plus 400 film and we were ready to return the Spotmatic to action.
I found that its quite a different approach shooting film, as oppose to digital, and a little frustrating too. I still got the same feeling when my finger pressed the button and I thought I’d captured something good, but I couldn’t immediately confirm that it was definitely the case like I can with my digital camera, which did my head in at first. I’d read that because the zinc battery that powers the light meter was more powerful than its mercury counterpart I would have to compensate by slightly underexposing each shot, so I decided that I would shoot one roll of film and see what, if anything, came back. This, manually focusing the 50mm lens (no AF!) and having only 36 exposures to play with made me stop and consider the shot more than I would have had I been shooting digital, I think. It certainly gave me a whole new appreciation of how skilled and talented pre-digital photographers are.
So, the film runs out. I have at least a dozen more shots I want to get. Bugger… I take the film roll to the lovely folks at CC Imaging and wait an agonizing wait. A full 24 hours! Does the camera work? Had I got the exposure right? Would there be black specs of something or other on every print? Would I have wasted my time?
Well, have a look and see what you think. I’m pretty chuffed with what I got, but more chuffed that the camera still works after 40 odd years. The photos haven’t been altered or enhanced in anyway in post, so what you see is exactly as the camera captured it. I think its done a great job, hope you agree.